|(above) Steve Palmer adds to the growing roster of USHL coaches with DU ties|
by Ron Rop
Last season Steve Palmer was the Volunteer Assistant coach at the University of Denver. This summer he was named an assistant coach with the USHL Muskegon Lumberjacks.
While the on-ice instruction won't begin until next month, there have been plenty of other things to do for the newest member of the coaching staff.
"Basically, I want to get to know as many players eligible for our team in the next few years," Palmer said. "I think I've been in Rochester, N.Y. more than in Muskegon this summer."
Palmer, along with fellow assistant Dave Noel-Bernier, is vital to the current and future success of the United States Hockey League club.
He's spent part of his summer learning the team's computer software for scouting players because it's imperative that all the coaches "all stay on the same page."
Palmer has been watching players born in 1996. They will be targeted in next spring's Futures Draft.
Not only has he been to New York, but he was in Ann Arbor this week watching players and a trip to Toronto is coming up to watch some "high end" kids.
And when the regular season begins in October, chances are either Palmer or Noel-Bernier will be out of town. The coach who remains in Muskegon will stand behind the bench with head coach Kevin Patrick.
"One of us will be building the future of the Lumberjacks and the one of us will be here coaching," Palmer, 37, said. Last season, with just Noel-Bernier as an assistant, those scouting trips during the season were rather limited.
"I am excited to do both the recruiting for the future and excited to help develop this team," said Palmer, who played 13 years of professional hockey overseas before joining the coaching staff at the University of Denver last season as a volunteer assistant.
"Steve brings a strong hockey background to the position," Patrick said. "He played for a long time and he played at a high level. He has transitioned well to the coaching side of things.
"Last year, he was with one of the elite programs in Division 1 hockey at the University of Denver," Patrick said.
Long before he got to Denver, Palmer earned his bachelor's degree in engineering and management at Clarkson University in New York. He was a two-time academic All-American and a Rhodes Scholarship nominee.
He had opportunities to play professionally in North America, but opted to play in Finland, Austria, Germany and Italy.
A series of concussions several years into his career kept him out for 14 months and pretty much ended his dream of playing in the National Hockey League.
However, the experience of playing overseas is one he will never forget.
"I loved the culture, I loved the hockey and I learned another language," Palmer said. "I would not trade it for anything."
After the 2008-09 season, he retired as a player and focused on coaching.
"I was excited to get into the next phase," Palmer said. "I was excited to be a coach and it wasn't a disappointment as it was for some."
Palmer, a native of Missisauga, Ontario, is married to Melissa. They have a 2 ½-year-old son named Chase.
"I had a few opportunities to coach in the USHL and in college, but the guys in Denver said working with KP (Kevin Patrick) would be a great experience so this was my first choice," Palmer said. "It was a no-brainer to get the opportunity to work with him and learn from him."